Chapter 33 - I'll Get By (As Long As I Have You)

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August 1944

As Jonathon walked back to the office after his morning inspection, he noticed the men he passed averted their eyes or turned away when they saw him. It was something that had been happening with more frequency recently.

Good, he thought, lifting his straw hat so he could wipe the sweat off his forehead before it ran in his eyes. The men should be afraid of him. He'd fired four of them in the last four weeks, and he wouldn't hesitate to fire more, even if it meant he'd have to hire women to replace them.

The last two he'd caught resting in the shade of an idle steam shovel. Seeing them sitting there as if they didn't have anything else to do made his rage boil over. He'd tossed them out on the spot and after he'd gotten back to the office, he'd phoned the draft board to let them know the two were no longer employed in the war effort.

The soldiers in Europe like Billy didn't get to take a break from the war whenever they felt like it. They were in the thick of the fighting, putting their lives on the line every minute of every day. And he was making sacrifices too, spending long hours at work instead of at home with his wife and son. If they didn't understand the value of putting in a full day of work at the mine, they could learn it at the frontlines.

Although the war might be over by time those men got shipped overseas, he mused. The military had made great gains in France since the invasion. The papers were saying they might reach Berlin by Christmas. Jonathon sure hoped so. Even though they'd gotten a letter from Billy letting them know he'd survived the invasion and was alright, Jonathon was sick with worry for him, especially after what he'd seen at the picture show.

He'd taken Helen to a movie in an attempt to take her mind off the baby, but he'd forgotten the newsreels would show footage from the war. That night it was film from the Normandy invasion. Seeing soldiers making their way up the beach and then dropping as they were shot, was horrifying for Jonathon, but it had been too much for Helen. She'd started crying, but she wasn't the only one. Nearly everyone in the theater had a brother, a son, a father, a sweetheart, or friend who was fighting, and for many, they were overwhelmed with emotion.

Nearing the office building, Jonathon lifted his hat to wipe his brow again when he spotted the Duesenberg. It was too early for James to be there to get his lunch, he thought, and then the rear door opened.

"Helen," he said, quickening his steps to meet her as she closed the door and faced him. "What's wrong?" he asked, alarmed by her grim expression.

"Annie's mother got a telegram."

Jonathon slumped as he let a breath. It had to be about Annie's brother, Frank. "What did it say?"

"She hasn't opened it, but..." She swallowed, unable to finish the sentence. "I'm taking Annie home. She's pretty broken up right now."

"Maybe he's just injured," Jonathon said hopefully.

"You would think they would have let them know by now. It's been a month with no word from him at all."

She was right. Billy had written them right away and they'd had the letter within weeks. "Tell her I'm sorry," Jonathon said, knowing it would be small comfort. Annie was as devoted to her little brother as he was to Billy. Losing him was going to be devastating. "What will you do about Douglas?"

"I'm taking him with me. The neighbors are already at the house. There'll be girls to watch him and little ones to play with. He'll be okay."

"Alright."

She sighed deeply. "I don't know when I'll be home. I'll call when I need James."

"I'll make sure he stays near the telephone."

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